The anime series of Jigoku Shoujo is known in English speaking countries as Hell Girl, or sometimes as Jigoku Shoujo: Girl from Hell.
The story of the anime has a recurring theme of injustice, hatred, suffering, and revenge. Elements like violence, harsh language, trickery, blackmail, animal cruelty, torture, insanity, twisted and complex human emotions, and such are common elements of the series.
It currently consists of four seasons with 26 episodes each, with exception of the fourth, which contains 12 episodes. The first season is known as "Hell Girl" (地獄少女). The second season is known as "Hell Girl: Two Mirrors" (地獄少女 二籠). The third season is known as "Hell Girl: Three Vessels" (地獄少女 三鼎). The fourth season is known as "Hell Girl: Fourth Twilight".
The story revolves around a girl named Ai Enma. Her existence is an urban legend known only by few, and most of these people know her instead by the name Jigoku Shoujo (Hell Girl). She is known for the service that she is rumored to provide, which is to carry out grudges on behalf of the clients who request her service by sending the person the client holds a grudge against to hell.
The means of requesting her service has changed with time, with the latest means being a website known as the Jigoku Tsūshin (Hotline to Hell). Knowledge of the website's existence is an urban legend known only by few as well. It is only accessible exactly at midnight, and can usually only be seen by those who bear significantly powerful grudges. There is very little content on the website, and it consists of only a message, a text box and a 'send' button. If one is to receive Ai's service, they have to enter the name of the person they have a grudge against in the text box and send it.
After a request has been sent to Ai, she has her servants (or companions) investigate the client and/or the would-be victim discreetly, sometimes joining in herself in the investigation as well. The investigation is often done by supernatural means, and for various reasons, through which Ai decides whether or not to give her service to a client. If she accepts the client's request, she will approach the client and hand them a straw doll, which is actually one of her servants transformed. She will then explain the terms of her service, which states that if the client wishes to continue, he or she must pull the red string tied around the neck of the straw doll. After doing so, Ai will take the person who the client sent the name of immediately to hell. However, by pulling the red string, the client agrees to the condition of her service, which states that he or she will also be sent to hell, but only after his or her natural life comes to an end.
Episode Structure and FormationEdit
Each episode usually contains a stand-alone short story. From the beginning to the end of each episode, events unfold around one or more individual based on the feelings and stories of the individual, both of which are explained and shown in details. It usually follows a pattern of the individual holding a grudge against the protagonist, or starting to hold one, usually after suffering from the actions of the protagonist. Then the grudges usually escalate through more torment from the antagonist, until the individual resorts to using the Jigoku Tsuushin to request Ai to take revenge on their behalf by sending the antagonist to hell. This is only the general format of the episodes, and does not hold true for all episodes.
Along with each episode being self-contained short stories, each season as a whole also contains another overarching story, which is the main story of the season. It is explained and shown in smaller parts in random episodes, until near the end of the season, where it becomes the only focus of the series. All these episodes joined together make the grand story.
The main story of the first season revolves around two characters - Hajime Shibata, and his daughter Tsugumi Shibata. It follows them as Hajime, a freelance journalist, gets more and more interested and deeply concerned about the Jigoku Tsuushin and the one behind it.
It is soon revealed that ever since his daughter Tsugumi had an encounter with Jigoku Shoujo, she has become mysteriously connected with Ai in such a manner that she has visions of what Ai sees at some specific moments. Hajime starts investigating the matter more deeply together with Tsugumi, using the help of her visions, and soon becomes unknowingly involved in the matter.
He becomes determined to stop the existence of such a service, as he strongly disagrees with the ways in which Ai's service is being used. He believes that revenge is not the solution, and so he tries to stop others from using Ai's service, and also tries to stop Ai from giving such a service. But in order to fulfill this goal, he needs to find and get to Ai first, which in turn requires him to find out the truths and secrets behind Jigoku Shoujo.
Season Two: Hell Girl: Two MirrorsEdit
This season reveals some details about the past of the three servants (companions) of Ai, and introduces a new character named Kikuri, who also newly becomes a part of Ai's group. She is a character who remains largely mysterious at first. All that is known about her near the beginning is that she is no normal human being, and that she can freely travel between the normal world and the twilight realm, where Ai resides. Throughout the season, her personality and her true identity becomes more and more clear.
The main story of this season revolves around another character named Takuma Kurebayashi. He is blamed by the people from his town for causing the disappearances of people that have suddenly started in town. But in reality, this is the result of some people of the town using the Jigoku Tsuushin to send other people to hell, and then later blaming it on him. As time passes, matters become worse for Takuma, and a detective named Seiichi Meshiai, and his sister Hotaru Meshiai becomes involved. The detective and her sister believes that Takuma is innocent, and as they dig deeper to find out the truth, they get caught in the same trap that Takuma has fallen into. After all that, Ai finally decides that she can no longer just overlook the matter.
Season Three: Hell Girl: Three VesselsEdit
In this season, Kikuri returns and reunites the three servants of Ai, and adds with them another new servant named Yamawaro, who accepts an old offer from Ai to become her fourth assistant.
The main story of this season centers around a middle school student named Yuzuki Mikage, who becomes mysteriously possessed by Ai at one point. She is aware of Ai's presence however, and she also has visions of what Ai sees at times. Throughout the season, her past and her links to Ai for which she has been possessed is explained.
Season Four: Hell Girl: Fourth TwilightEdit
In this season, the first 6 episodes focus on the story of Michiru, a mysterious girl that doesn't remember how or why she died. Michiru starts following Ai and questions her actions and from the people who seeks Hell Girl. As the story progresses, Ai tries to help Michiru what really happened to her.
The following 6 episodes of this season are reminiscences from previous seasons of Hell Girl.
Production and Original RunEdit
The production of the anime has been done by Aniplex and SKY Perfect Well Think for the first two seasons, while the third season has been produced by only Aniplex. The animation studio for the whole series has been Studio Deen.
The first two seasons were drafted by Hiroshi Watanabe and directed by Takahiro Omori, while the third season has been both drafted and directed by Hiroshi Watanabe alone. Takahiro Omori worked with post-recording production for the third season instead.
The series has mainly been composed by Kenichi Kanemaki, with other writers writing the scripts for individual episodes. The character designs have been done by Mariko Oka for the whole series. Art directors for the anime was Yoshinori Hishinuma for the first two seasons, and additionally Nariyuki Ogi for the second and third season. The music has been made by Hiromi Mizutani and Yasuharu Takanashi for the whole series, and additionally by Kenji Fujisawa in the third season.
Notable television stations in Japan that has aired the anime are Animax, Tokyo MX, and MBS, with Animax being the most notable. The first season, simply known as 'Jigoku Shoujo' originally ran between October 4, 2005 and April 4, 2006. The second season, 'Jigoku Shoujo Futakomori' originally aired from October 7, 2006 to April 6, 2007. The third season, 'Jigoku Shoujo Mitsuganae' had its original run between October 4, 2008 and April 4, 2009.
Dubs and LicensingEdit
Animax has translated and dubbed the first and second season of the anime in other languages. The most notable of it is English, which it has aired across its English language networks in Southeast Asia and South Asia. It has also aired the anime in some other languages in Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Vietnam, Europe, and other regions.
It has been licensed by Sentai Filmworks for North American distribution. The second season has been licensed under the title 'Hell Girl: Two Mirrors', and the third season has been licensed under the title 'Hell Girl: Three Vessels'.
Prior to this, FUNimation had also licensed the first season for North American distribution, but it later dropped the series. The U.S. cable/satellite channel IFC acquired the series from FUNimation later on, and aired it from July 9, 2008.
The opening theme of the first season is 'Sakasama no Chou' (逆さまの蝶), which means 'The Inverted Butterfly'. It is performed by SNoW, and it is her third single.
- Lyrics: SNoW, Hideaki Yamano
- Composition: SNoW, Asanjō Shindō
- Arrangement: Asanjō Shindō, Ken'ichi Fujita
The ending theme of the first season is 'Karinui' (かりぬい), which means 'Ephemeral'. It is performed by Mamiko Noto, the voice actress of Ai.
- Lyrics: Hitomi Mieno
- Composition: Masara Nishida
- Arrangement: Masara Nishida
The opening theme of the second season is 'NightmaRe'. It is another performance by SNoW, and it is her fifth single.
- Lyrics: Hideaki Yamano
- Composition: SNoW, Asanjō Shindō
The ending theme of the second season is 'Aizome' (あいぞめ), which means 'Dyeing Indigo'. It is also performed by Mamiko Noto.
- Lyrics: Aa (from the band savage genius)
- Composition: Takumi (from the band savage genius)
- Arrangement: Masara Nishida
The opening theme of the third season is 'Tsukihana' (月華), which means 'Moon Flower'. It is performed by Nana Kitade.
- Lyrics: Nana Kitade
- Composition: Velvet Romica
The ending theme of the third season is 'Ichinuke' (いちぬけ), which means 'Once Through'. It is also performed by Mamiko Noto.
- Lyrics: Hitomi Mieno
- Composition: Asami Kousei
- Arrangement: Yasutaka Mizushima
The opening theme of the fourth season is 'Noise' (ノイズ). It is performed by Mio Yamazaki.
- Lyrics: Mio Yamazaki
- Composition: Mio Yamazaki
The ending theme of the fourth season is 'Irogami' (いろがみ), which means 'Colored Paper'. It is also performed by Mamiko Noto.
- Lyrics: Sayaka Hirose
- Composition: Hiromi Mizutane
- Arrangement: Hiromi Mizutane